President's Message--February 24th, 2021

This week, our Bargaining Team won a key victory on safety, but we seem to be on a collision course with the District on instruction and equity. 

KEY SAFETY VICTORY

The good news first. We have been fighting hard since August for safety measures that ensure that our return to school campuses will keep our students, educators, and families safe. We are getting very close to agreement on crucial terms of safety, including ensuring adequate ventilation in all our classrooms.

We continue to closely monitor the number of new COVID-19 cases in Multnomah county. Hopefully community transmission will continue to decline and we will be able to bring students and educators together safely on our school campuses this spring.

However, we must do that in a way that meets our students' most urgent social and emotional needs, without any further erosion to academic instruction. Despite the clear objections from our Bargaining Team and our membership, the District is doubling down on simulcast instruction, for grades K-12.

SIMULCAST IS NOT WHAT OUR STUDENTS DESERVE

As educators, we also know it is critical that any plans we make for the spring must center the needs of our most-impacted students and families. We must not exacerbate the inequalities created by this pandemic for so many of our students. 

For example, we’ve seen first hand how families of color in Multnomah county have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, even more than the aggregate data suggest. Despite this, PPS is justifying their simulcast plans with survey results that do not include the voices of the majority of our families of color, or of our families in Title I, CSI, and TSI schools.

Of course, we worry about students in CDL, especially those who struggle to stay engaged. According to the parent survey results that PPS presented at last night’s board meeting, “In-person Peer Interaction” is the greatest unmet need of students whose families completed the survey.

But that’s also why the District's plan is such a jarring contradiction. Simulcast is not a model that supports in-person peer interaction, and it does NOT meet our students’ academic or social-emotional needs.

For students who return to the classroom, they will be required to remain seated at desks for 2 hours at a time with their teacher’s attention divided between them and their peers watching from home, all while managing technology and enforcing student compliance with strict safety protocols.

For the students watching from home, they will lose the best of what CDL has provided-- the attention from, and interaction with, their teacher and other students during remote lessons. 

This is why 93% of PAT members agree that the Simulcast model does NOT meet the needs of students. 

A DIFFERENT PATH FORWARD

We know that the pandemic is not over, and staying safe is a non-negotiable. If new COVID-19 infections in our area start to increase again, remaining in CDL is the safest option for our students. If that is the case in April, we are prepared to continue remote learning for all. 

We also have reason to hope that by April our safety agreements, and the continued reduction in COVID-19 transmission, will create opportunities to finally see our students face-to-face. 

We need to make sure that in this best-case scenario, any plan for in-person learning centers safety, stability, and equity for our students, and that it is focused on our students’ greatest needs. In the final quarter of this unprecedented school year, we must not disrupt the best aspects of CDL, or trade off one students’ opportunity to be in-person, for another students’ opportunity to learn safely from home.

As the educators who work directly with students, we know what our students need, and what is possible within the constraints of the time and resources we have. This is why we need to be at the center of planning for any return to in-person learning.

So, please think about your own students. What has been going well in CDL that you wouldn’t want disrupted? What are your students’ greatest needs that are not being met in a remote environment? And how could we safely meet those needs this spring? 

In the coming weeks, we hope to hear from all of you. We plan on holding conversations in every building, as well as with parents and community members, to build a path forward rooted in our shared values of safety, stability, and serving ALL our students.

License Expense Reimbursement Available for Diverse Applicants

The Oregon Legislature, through the Student Success Act, has authorized TSPC to mitigate costs associated with TSPC licensure and assessments for racially, ethnically, and/or linguistically diverse teacher and administrator candidates. If you have incurred an initial license or renewal expense (for example, fees paid in eLicensing to TSPC, fees paid to complete an ORELA or Praxis test) between the fiscal year of July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, you may qualify for repayment. You can find further information regarding qualifications for the program, what is eligible for reimbursement, and application forms here: TSPC : Diversity License Expense Reimbursements : Financial Assistance

Bargaining Win: Requesting a Substitute to Provide Additional, Tailored Student Support

If you believe that one or more of your students would benefit from additional academic social/emotional support, please email your building administrator with a request for the support of a substitute educator. 

PAT and PPS have agreed to a proposal to assist students who face difficulties fully engaging in Comprehensive Distance Learning. The agreement gives PAT professional educators the ability to work with building administration to assign a fully trained and licensed substitute educator to work with particular students.  

This support will be provided virtually and is different from LIPI or credit recovery support. In considering requests for substitute educator support, the administrator will assess a student’s need for additional academic instruction or social/emotional support and for whom other resources have not been effective.

In requesting this assistance for your student, explain how it is tailored to the student’s specific needs and why already existing building resources are not adequate or have not proved effective. Examples of proposed assistance might be one-on-one sessions between the substitute and the student, or a substitute supporting multiple small groups of students with similar needs (similar to a “virtual LIPI”). 

Once the administrator approves an educator’s request, the administrator shall contact the Substitute Office to schedule a substitute educator. As this resource is being provided virtually, only substitute educators who are cleared to provide comprehensive distance learning will be used.

Compensation for LIPI Extended Hours & Submission Form

Educators are entitled to compensation for extended hours for their participation in Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI). Educators shall receive:

  • Up to 3 extended hours of Professional Development, including: 
    • Up to 90 minutes for District-directed operational and health/safety PD   (summarized on this LIPI Staff Training document) and
    • Up to 90 minutes of Principal-directed PD that includes a site walkthrough.
  • 1 extended hour per week for planning for LIPI
  • Pay for all hours implementing LIPI 

For example, if an educator leads a LIPI cohort session on Tuesday and Thursday from 1-3pm, this constitutes 4 hours + 1 hour of planning = 5 hours total for that week, which will be paid at the educator’s per diem hourly rate. 

Educators should submit their extended hours weekly in this LIPI Extended Hours Form from PPS (a PPS e-mail address is required to access this form).

Once submitted, the teacher and Principal’s Secretary will receive an automatic reply with an Account code to use for payroll purposes. The Principal’s Secretary will add these hours when they do Payroll. Shawn Bird, PPS Chief of Schools, has informed administrators of this process. 

Teach Climate Justice: “An Environmental Justice Tour of the Willamette River: Reimagining Portland's Fossil Fuel Sacrifice Zone”

The next "Teach Climate Justice" gathering, sponsored by the PPS Climate Justice Committee and the Portland Association of Teachers, will be held online February 25th, 4 pm to 5:30 pm. This session, co-sponsored with the Braided River Campaign, is “An Environmental Justice Tour of the Willamette River: Reimagining Portland's Fossil Fuel Sacrifice Zone." We'll provide teaching resources, opportunities for conversation, and insight from activists working for a just transition on the Willamette. 

Please join us -- Everyone is welcome.

Thursday, February 25th, 4:00-5:30 PM: Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/93404874891


PAT Members in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

PAT Racial Equity & Social Justice Committees would like to give a gigantic socially distanced thank you to everyone that made our third annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action a success. We would also like to thank the individuals who participated in the curriculum exchange, and most importantly, who brought those lessons back to share with their students, not only during Black History Month, but year round! Thank you to those who stood in solidarity for Black lives by wearing the BLM PAT shirts, buying Black, and attending one or both of the watch parties. We could not have done it without you! Please join us for our next Heritage month in May as we celebrate Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you would like to be a part of this planning committee, please email: [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]

PAT Members in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

PAT Racial Equity & Social Justice Committees would like to give a gigantic socially distanced thank you to everyone that made our third annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action a success. We would also like to thank the individuals who participated in the curriculum exchange, and most importantly, who brought those lessons back to share with their students, not only during Black History Month, but year round! Thank you to those who stood in solidarity for Black lives by wearing the BLM PAT shirts, buying Black, and attending one or both of the watch parties. We could not have done it without you! Please join us for our next Heritage month in May as we celebrate Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you would like to be a part of this planning committee, please email: [email protected][email protected], or [email protected]

PAT Scholarship: Aspiring Educators of Color

We're proud to announce a new PAT-sponsored scholarship opportunity for future educators of color! One scholarship for $6,000 will be awarded to a graduating PPS senior, who identifies as a person of color, and who plans on becoming a certified educator. Another $6,000 scholarship will be open for any PPS employee of color, who is not yet a certified educator. Look for further details on how to apply soon! 

The PAT Racial Equity Committee is overseeing this new opportunity for our union to support aspiring educators of color.

Advocacy Committee Update: Reminders Sent to PPS Building Administrators

Based on information from members, the following reminders were sent to all PPS administrators by the District. We’ve included the language sent by the District in case your administrator needs to see it in writing. 

DROP-INS DURING CDL

“This is a friendly reminder that the district and PAT have made the following agreement around observations in the distance learning setting:

When an administrator conducts a drop-in observation, the administrator shall either provide notice to the educator before the class begins or announce their presence to the educator when they enter the class. Any formal observation shall follow notice requirements and the prior meetings called for in the existing evaluation handbook.

When building administrators, district level support staff or district administrators are planning to join a class, please send a quick email to the teacher, and, if appropriate, announce your presence when you enter the “classroom”.  If there is a time sensitive need that prevents sending an email, please announce your presence.”

GENERAL EDUCATION STUDENTS PLACED IN SPED CLASSROOMS

“We recognize the challenges building administrators face in trying to provide sufficient levels of support to some of your struggling students. It is important to remember that general education students cannot be scheduled into special education classes without a completed current eligibility, and consent to initiate SPED services signed by a parent. If you have questions or need clarification about this, please contact your SPED administrator.”

PAT Election Reminder: Vote by February 25th

Don’t forget to vote in the 2021 PAT Elections! Votes must be cast by tomorrow, Thursday, February 25 at 5:00pm. The ballot lists candidates for PAT Executive Board Directors, OEA RA delegates, and NEA RA delegates. If you have not received your ballot (sent to your PPS email address), or if you are not a member and would like to join so that you may vote, please contact [email protected].

OEA Relief Fund Open for Substitute Educators, Apply by June 1, 2021

In response to the continued financial hardship the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for many of our substitute and community college educators, OEA has authorized an additional round of disaster relief grants for impacted members from the OEA Relief Fund. This application is for OEA members who are substitute educators, and who have lost salary as a result of COVID-19. Members who have previously received a COVID-19 relief grant from OEA are eligible to apply for additional support during this application window. (Non-members are not eligible for this grant.) Funding request is allowed for up to $1,000. Deadline to apply is June 1, 2021.

To view eligibility criteria and to apply please go here